Minister Simon Harris says Kremlin’s list barring Irish politicians from Russia is a ‘tool of war’.

Higher Education Minister Simon Harris has described the list of politicians banned from Russia as a “propaganda tool”.

Yesterday the Irish Independent unveiled the full list of TDs, senators and MPs the Kremlin says are not welcome in Moscow.

More than 30 Fianna Fáil politicians will be banned from Russia, along with members of Fine Gael and the leader of the Labor Party.

Vladimir Putin’s list does not include members of the Green Party or the main opposition party, Sinn Féin.

Mr Harris said the list was a “classic, despicable tool of misdirection, a tool of war used by Putin”.

“I don’t plan to visit Russia anytime soon, but I’m a bit upset with all this concentration on the list because I think that’s exactly what Putin wants us to do today,” he told the Anton Savage Show next newscaster.

“Yesterday I was with thousands of third year students from across Ireland as President Zelenskyy spoke to third year students in Ireland about the brutal, illegal, unjustified and heinous war waged against his country. The horrific crimes that take place every day.

“I really believe that this list was used as a propaganda tool, as a misleading tool by Russia. Putin would much rather have different countries talk about who is on the list, who is not, than talk about the fact that he actually invaded a European country illegally.”

Discussing the government’s decision not to expel Russian ambassador Yury Filatov, Mr Harris said it was “important” to keep some channels of communication open.

“I think there is a significant deterioration in diplomatic relations between Russia and the rest of the world because they are illegally invading a country in Europe, waging an illegal war, and murdering and maiming innocent Ukrainian citizens,” he said.

“There is no doubt that relations with Russia are at an all-time low, but that is separate and different from the point the foreign minister made about the importance of keeping some channels open.

“It’s always important to have a channel of engagement, it’s also important to have that presence in your country so that someone can actually be called into the Foreign Office and the most serious views in Irish Government can be conveyed on behalf of the people.

“So keeping the ambassador in Ireland is not an indication that there are strong diplomatic ties.

“This is a militarily neutral country, but this country is not neutral when it comes to the difference between right and wrong.”

With the Fine Gael Ard Fheis currently taking place in Athlone today, Mr Harris said he was “happy to serve in any role” ahead of next month’s cabinet reshuffle.

“What is not in my control is what position in the cabinet I will end up taking. I’ve had the honor of holding a few different positions in government. I am happy to serve in any role,” he said.

“Our opponents often try to point to our longevity in government as a disadvantage. I would argue very strongly that the experience the Fine Gael team have gained in dealing with crises when they meet you in government is an asset to the Irish people.

“I like to think what we certainly didn’t do everything right, we reacted and tried to react with leadership.” Minister Simon Harris says Kremlin’s list barring Irish politicians from Russia is a ‘tool of war’.

Fry Electronics Team

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